by Craig Kwasniewski
So what did we learn from the two headline games last night?
1 - Boston and Los Angeles are CLEARLY 1 and 1A in the NBA. It's like it's 1985 all over again with both teams keeping a distant eye on each other as they roll over and through everyone in their way. You know Boston's pissed at all the attention the undefeated Lakers are getting and after thrashing Detroit and beating Atlanta last night they're sending a message to the rest of the league, "The Road to the Finals still goes through Boston!" I just hope neither team catches the injury bug... we need to see how the full 82 plays out with these two gunning for each other!
2 - Atlanta and New Orleans were impressive despite losing last night. Both teams were looking to deliver a message last night and both teams came up short.... barely. Atlanta went into Boston with an undefeated record intent on telling the defending champs that the seven game series last spring was no fluke. And outside of a clutch/miracle jumper from The Truth, they almost pulled of a W.
Atlanta can take away a few things from the loss. One, the C's respect ATL. They looked scary-motivated playing like it was June... nobody's played the Hawks that hard since 1994! Two, the Hawks hung in there against the defending champs without Josh Smith and with KG looking like he drank 760 Red Bulls at before the tip. Again, it says a lot about the respect for the Hawks after the C's virtually celebrated the W with parade and banner ceremony... IN NOVEMBER!!!!
New Orleans, a team that most of the media picked to topple LA simply because EVERYONE loves Chris Paul, withstood 3 quarters of the Lakers dominating them and almost stole a W at the end. What impressed me was their patience throughout the game. The Lakers were killing them on the boards, were getting well-timed steals and defended NOLA's dangerous perimeter game for three quarters leading by 19. Instead of rolling over and clearing the bench, NOLA took the Lakers punch... paused... and went right back with CP3 doing his thang, opening lanes and hitting guys for wide open threes, which finally started falling.
As I texted Brett last night, "NOLA's three point game always gives them a chance no matter what deficit." And NOLA showed me that despite the Lakers strong start, they'll be right there at all season.